This is my examen – my reflective experience as I cycle to and from work, or indeed to and from anywhere.
This is why I love cycling – it combines a physical fitness regime with a space in which I can reflect. You can get to anywhere from anywhere on your bike – if you plan your journey and give yourself the right amount of time…
Fr. Dennis Hamm, SJ, a scripture professor at Creighton University, calls the Daily Examen “rummaging for God.” He likens it to “going through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around, looking for something that you are sure must be there.” That’s an accurate description of what it’s like to pray the Daily Examen. I look back on the previous day, rummaging through the “stuff,” and finding God in it. We know he is there. –
Whether you are religious or not – whether you believe in God or not (how could you not?) , we can all benefit from an opportunity to reflect on our day – to have “headspace” to filter, to mull, to sort.
It’s even better to do this in the presence of God.
The EZPC Cyclists Examen – on my journey to and from anywhere.
1. Becoming aware of God’s presence.
This is actually very easy on a bike – It will help if you can choose a route that will get you out of the city – or at least along several park pathways away from traffic as this will help to decrease distractions.
As you spin – become aware of your easy breathing – feel the air rushing past you- be aware of the sun / rain / cold / warmth. Concentrate on the hum of the tyres on the road. Let it sing to you. Your body will mechanically keep the legs going. Concentrate on your breathing , smoothly letting it settle into the same rhythm as your heartbeat. It’s at this point that you will settle easily into mental freewheel and reflect mode. You have entered the Zen state of cycling. You can be dodging traffic – pushing hard into the wind or maxing out at 35mph, it won’t matter…you can hear your heartbeat and see the traffic but your head and heart are now directed upwards.
Cycle with Joy! God is good. The air is free – drink it in. Feel the air flow around you. See how easily you can move forwards….
2. Review the day with gratitude.
Your friends / family / work and pre-occupations will come up before you as your mind filters through your day and your concerns. Thank God for it all – as it is all part and parcel of your life. Lay your concerns down before him and step back – knowing that God can and will deal with all issues. This is NOT a cop out – just an acknowledgement that God IS in charge of all things – He can guide us through all things. Nothing is impossible for Him. The joy of the Lord is our strength. Enjoy God therefore.
See His awesomeness – His perfection – His Holiness and yet His Grace – His Mercy – His Favour – His Love in your dealings with the people you encountered that day.
3. Pay attention to your emotions.
Feel your own responses – lay THEM down before God also and reflect on how you are feeling , why you are feeling that way etc. Ask God to illuminate your soul and sharpen your mind by His Spirit. It’s amazing what comes up as you cycle – enjoy the headspace.
Enjoy the scenery.
4. Look at the features of your day and pray from them.
Your starting to surge forward now – delighting in the song of your blood pulsing in your veins. Feel the strength of your arms / legs and now focus on the days main features.
Review your whole day – Notice the details. The context of what happened. How you acted. Your motives. Your feelings.
When did you fail? Where you did not feel at your best.Where there was a barrier to God’s presence.How conscious have you been of God’s presence and actions in your life? When did you love? Where did you give genuine love and charity?
Habits and Life Patterns – Notice your daily habits – are they dragging down your freedom? Are specific people causing you to be negative? See both the positive and negative. Where has Jesus helped you have a positive response to life. Maybe you could have accepted more help from Christ?
Let yourself become more sensitive to God’s grace. See other forms of God’s presence – You will also notice the signs of God’s grace that have come to you – Through God’s people – The Body of Christ. Through Scripture. These graces, the intuitions of the things God wishes you to do, will come inside and outside of other regular prayer.
Now reconcile and resolve. Repetition allows us to be more open to God. Our heart to heart talk with Jesus is the fruit of this repetition.
Imagine Jesus cycling beside you.
Now step up a gear and start to push yourself physically. Mentally mark a landscape feature you want to charge for, making sure traffic allows it. We’re going to go for a charge and a mental “shout” to God…. Sing it up to God and charge! Push for your goal. Surge and shout to God!
Feel the rush! Feel the pain as you push! Hear the air rush. See how quickly you are moving!
You pass your marker now – slow and reflect on your day. Keep spinning.
What is God whispering back to you within your heart beat and blood surge? Can you hear?
5. Look toward tomorrow.
You’ve now slowed to a calmer easier pace – reflecting on the next day. Thank God for his provision and lay down what you think tomorrow might bring. Ask His spirit to guide you and prepare you. Reflect on what God might have for you for tomorrow. What might this mean for you? How can you respond?
You’ve reached your destination – refreshed – awakened – vitally alive – glowing – blood pulsing – mentally sharp.
God is good.